I'd like to ask a question about the past perfect. I do not understand the tense usage in these two sentences:
(1) Joe lived in London for a year before he got married
(2) After I had posted the letter, I felt much better
I think I won't make a mistake if I use "had lived" in (1) and "posted" in (2), will I? How can I explain the usage of the past perfect in the latter and the past simple in the former if both 'after' and 'before' make the sequence of events clear?
American English is perhaps a bit more flexible, but unfortunately, here in Europe ESOL tests accept "He had lived in London for many years before he got married" and regard other alternatives as dispreferred.
I feel we should keep this in mind when replying to students.
Of course natural everyday English is much more flexible, but perhaps we should not forget that students turn to these forums to get some help with their homework and with exam preparation too.